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Locksmithing/Door Stuck - Handle Turns but Doesn't Open


Inside Door Handle
Inside Door Handle  
QUESTION: I have what I believe is a Dexter by Schlage handle and lock set on my garage door.  This morning when I went to leave for work, the handle turned, but the door wouldn't open. I shined a flashlight into the crack and can see that when I turn the handle the plunger isn't moving.  There is a little round rod next to the plunger, it is moving, but the plunger stays. I took the handle off since it's screwed in from the inside. I have access to the garage as well so I can get to both sides of the door.  In the attached photo, I can see when I rotate the little center piece that it cause that little rod to retract. I can't figure out what about the mechanism forces the plunger back. I tried the string/wire method to try and release the plunger. I had my wife push on the opposite side of the door while I pulled the string, but the only have to get to give is with force and it pulls through the plunger too quickly and the door won't move. I can't get access to the plunger from the garage side because of the door frame.  I am looking for any suggestions on getting the plunger to release from inside the unit. The only other option I can think of is to remove the door from the hinges, but while the top hinge is pretty standard, the bottom two are more heavy duty and I don't know how to pull them as they don't look like they have the a standard pin. Help!

ANSWER: Try using a large screwdriver stuck in the square hole and rotate it.

if that doesn't work, try moving the top part of the latch from left to right.

If that doesn't do it, you will to disassemble the latch through until you can grip the stem of the latch and pull it out.

You shouldn't have to damage the door. But it can take some time to do this.

A pair of needle nose pliers or needle nose vise grips is what we use.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the response, Dan. I've rotated the square whole with a screwdriver, but it only releases the little rod, not the plunger.

Not sure what you mean by the top part of the latch and moving it left and right.  

I was thinking I might have to dissemble the latch, but I am not sure where to start wouldn't just breaking in. I feel like I can apply leverage to pull the piece with the square hole out, but it seems to bend the metal on the piece that the plunger connects to. Could use some advice on disassembling that.

The little "slide" on the top of the latch in your picture should move to retract the latch.

There is no finess way to disassemble the latch. Just remove it one piece at a time until you get to the bar attached to the latch bolt.

Part of the problem is that the little part of the latch, called the deadlatch, is doing its job.

When the deadlatch is pushed in, the main part of the latch cannot be retracted. this is to guard against "shimming" the latch with a credit card.

That's why taking it apart through the hole in the door is such a pain. You have to remove it first before you can move the main part of the latch back.

Is there enough clearance between the door and frame that you could drive a wooden wedge beteen them, spreading the frame from the door?



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Dan Terrigno


I can answer questions about commercial locks, card access systems, locksmithing except for cars, safes & safe opening, video surveillance and master key systems


35 years as a locksmith, security system designer and installer, trouble shooting and repair of all manner of security related equipment

Associated Locksmiths of America, Safe & Vault Technicians Association

Attended Miami University, Kent State University, continuing education through the Associated Locksmiths of American

Awards and Honors
Certified Master Locksmith. Certified ALOA instructor.

Past/Present Clients
Numerous Fortune 500 companies, DOD, and other governmental agencies

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